More than a year after an Oakland Gardens college student died in a hazing incident in Pennsylvania a judge has granted his mother the right to file a claim against the city.
The secrecy surrounding the case and the delay in legal action are puzzling.
Chun Hsien Deng, an 18-year-old freshman at Baruch College, was among about 20 pledges to the Pi Delta Psi fraternity who spent a weekend in the Pocono mountains in December 2013. During a hazing rite known as the “glass ceiling,” Deng lost consciousness and died, according to an affidavit filed by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department.
The wall of silence descended and despite repeated attempts by this paper to follow the case, nothing more was heard for well over a year.
Then the Monroe County coroner’s office said recently it had ruled the death a homicide, but so far no one has been charged.
The Pocono police are still conducting the investigation, according to court documents filed by Deng’s mother, but they would not disclose why the probe has not been concluded.
Deng’s mother, Xia Fen Liu, submitted a notice to file claim against CUNY within the deadline period. But she did not verify the claim because she contended the City University of New York had more information to build a case than her family, which was denied most access under a federal privacy act as the investigation continued.
The law, it would seem, has created a situation in which the parents of the victim are kept in the dark while the parent of Baruch is allowed to develop its own defense.
CUNY expelled Pi Delta Psi from the Baruch campus immediately after Deng’s death and said the Pennsylvania trip had not been sanctioned by the fraternity. The head of the national fraternity is the brother of Flushing Congresswoman Grace Meng.
Three months before the incident, 11 members of the Baruch chapter took an anti-hazing seminar and agreed not to take part in hazing practices, court records from the college revealed. Baruch maintained it was not responsible for Deng’s death, based on these actions.
But Judge Alan Marin of the New York Court of Claims ruled that Liu was entitled to file a late claim, clearing the way for the family to seek monetary losses resulting from his death.
Since the case has evolved into a homicide, we are waiting for prosecutors to identify and arrest the suspects - 16 months after the fatal incident. The delay for Deng’s parents must be unbearable and they deserve to know how their only son died and why.
©2015 Community News Group
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